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15

The Nervous System: Sensory and Motor Tracts of the Spinal Cord

PowerPoint Lecture Presentations prepared by Steven Bassett Southeast Community College Lincoln, Nebraska

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Introduction
Millions of sensory neurons are delivering information to the CNS all the time Millions of motor neurons are causing the body to respond in a variety of ways

Sensory and motor neurons travel by different tracts within the spinal cord

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Communication to and from the brain involves tracts Ascending tracts are sensory
Deliver information to the brain

Descending tracts are motor


Deliver information to the periphery

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Naming the tracts
If the tract name begins with spino (as in spinocerebellar), the tract is a sensory tract delivering information from the spinal cord to the cerebellum (in this case) If the tract name ends with spinal (as in vestibulospinal), the tract is a motor tract that delivers information from the vestibular apparatus (in this case) to the spinal cord

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


There are three major sensory tracts
The posterior column tract The spinothalamic tract The spinocerebellar tract

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The three major sensory tracts involve chains of neurons
First-order neuron
Delivers sensations to the CNS The cell body is in the dorsal or cranial root ganglion

Second-order neuron
An interneuron with the cell body in the spinal cord or brain

Third-order neuron
Transmits information from the thalamus to the cerebral cortex
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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Neurons in the sensory tracts are arranged according to three anatomical principles
Sensory modality Somatotropic Medial-lateral rule

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Sensory modality
Fine touch sensations are carried in one sensory tract

Somatotopic
Ascending tracts are arranged according to the site of origin

Medial-lateral rule
Sensory neurons that enter a low level of the spinal cord are more medial within the spinal cord Sensory neurons that enter at a higher level of the spinal cord are more lateral within the spinal cord

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Figure 15.1 Anatomical Principles for the Organization of the Sensory Tracts and Lower Motor Neurons in the Spinal Cord

MEDIAL
Leg

LATERAL

Hip

Trunk

Arm

Sensory fibers carrying fine touch, pressure, and vibration

Sensory fibers carrying pain and temperature

Flexors Sensory fibers carrying crude touch

Extensors

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Trunk

Shoulder

Arm

Forearm

Hand

Table 15.1 Principal Ascending (Sensory) Tracts and the Sensory Information They Provide

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Posterior Column tract consists of:
Fasciculus gracilis
Transmits information coming from areas inferior to T6

Fasciculus cuneatus
Transmits information coming from areas superior to T6

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Figure 15.2 A Crosssectional View Indicating the Locations of the Major Ascending (Sensory) Tracts in the Spinal Cord

Fasciculus gracilis Fasciculus cuneatus Dorsal root

Posterior columns

Dorsal root ganglion


Posterior spinocerebellar tract

Anterior spinocerebellar tract

Ventral root

Lateral spinothalamic tract Anterior spinothalamic tract

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Table 15.1 Principal Ascending (Sensory) Tracts and the Sensory Information They Provide (Part 1 of 2)

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Figure 15.3a The Posterior Column, Spinothalamic, and Spinocerebellar Sensory Tracts
Posterior Columns

Ventral nuclei in thalamus

Midbrain

Medial lemniscus Nucleus gracilis and nucleus cuneatus Medulla oblongata

Fasciculus cuneatus and fasciculus gracilis

Dorsal root ganglion

Fine-touch, vibration, pressure, and proprioception sensations from right side of body

The posterior columns deliver fine-touch, vibration, and proprioception information to the primary sensory cortex of the cerebral hemisphere on the opposite side of the body. The crossover occurs in the medulla, after a synapse in the nucleus gracilis or nucleus cuneatus.

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Spinothalamic tract
Transmits pain and temperature sensations to the thalamus and then to the cerebrum

Spinocerebellar tract
Transmits proprioception sensations to the cerebellum

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Figure 15.2 A Crosssectional View Indicating the Locations of the Major Ascending (Sensory) Tracts in the Spinal Cord

Fasciculus gracilis Fasciculus cuneatus Dorsal root

Posterior columns

Dorsal root ganglion


Posterior spinocerebellar tract

Anterior spinocerebellar tract

Ventral root

Lateral spinothalamic tract Anterior spinothalamic tract

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Table 15.1 Principal Ascending (Sensory) Tracts and the Sensory Information They Provide (Part 2 of 2)

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Figure 15.3b The Posterior Column, Spinothalamic, and Spinocerebellar Sensory Tracts
Anterior Spinothalamic Tract

A Sensory Homunculus
A sensory homunculus (little human) is a functional map of the primary sensory cortex. The proportions are very different from those of the individual because the area of sensory cortex devoted to a particular body region is proportional to the number of sensory receptors it contains.

Midbrain

Medulla oblongata

Anterior spinothalamic tract

Crude touch and pressure sensations from right side of body

The anterior spinothalamic tract carries crude touch and pressure sensations to the primary sensory cortex on the opposite side of the body. The crossover occurs in the spinal cord at the level of entry.

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Figure 15.3c The Posterior Column, Spinothalamic, and Spinocerebellar Sensory Tracts
Lateral Spinothalamic Tract

Midbrain

Medulla oblongata

Spinal cord

Lateral spinothalamic tract

KEY
Axon of firstorder neuron

Second-order neuron

Pain and temperature sensations from right side of body

Third-order neuron

The lateral spinothalamic tract carries sensations of pain and temperature to the primary sensory cortex on the opposite side of the body. The crossover occurs in the spinal cord, at the level of entry.

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Figure 15.3d The Posterior Column, Spinothalamic, and Spinocerebellar Sensory Tracts
Spinocerebellar Tracts

PONS

Cerebellum

Medulla oblongata
Spinocerebellar tracts

Anterior spinocerebellar tract

Spinal cord

Posterior spinocerebellar tract

Proprioceptive input from Golgi tendon organs, muscle spindles, and joint capsules

The spinocerebellar tracts carry proprioceptive information to the cerebellum. (Only one tract is detailed on each side, although each side has both tracts.)

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


Motor tracts
CNS transmits motor commands in response to sensory information Motor commands are delivered by the:
Somatic nervous system (SNS): directs contraction of skeletal muscles Autonomic nervous system (ANS): directs the activity of glands, smooth muscles, and cardiac muscle

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Figure 15.4a Motor Pathways in the CNS and PNS


Upper motor neurons in primary motor cortex

BRAIN

Somatic motor nuclei of brain stem

Skeletal muscle
Lower motor neurons SPINAL CORD

Somatic motor nuclei of spinal cord

Skeletal muscle

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In the somatic nervous system (SNS), an upper motor neuron in the CNS controls a lower-motor neuron in the brain stem or spinal cord. The axon of the lower-motor neuron has direct control over skeletal muscle fibers. Stimulation of the lowermotor neuron always has an excitatory effect on the skeletal muscle fibers.

Figure 15.4b Motor Pathways in the CNS and PNS


Visceral motor nuclei in hypothalamus BRAIN

Preganglionic neuron

Visceral Effectors
Smooth muscle Glands Cardiac muscle Adipocytes Autonomic nuclei in spinal cord Preganglionic neuron Autonomic ganglia Ganglionic neurons

Autonomic nuclei in brain stem SPINAL CORD

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In the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the axon of a preganglionic neuron in the CNS controls ganglionic neurons in the periphery. Stimulation of the ganglionic neurons may lead to excitation or inhibition of the visceral effector innervated.

Sensory and Motor Tracts


Motor tracts
These are descending tracts There are two major descending tracts
Corticospinal tract: Conscious control of skeletal muscles Subconscious tract: Subconscious regulation of balance, muscle tone, eye, hand, and upper limb position

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The Corticospinal Tracts
Consists of three pairs of descending tracts
Corticobulbar tracts: conscious control over eye, jaw, and face muscles Lateral corticospinal tracts: conscious control over skeletal muscles Anterior corticospinal tracts: conscious control over skeletal muscles

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Figure 15.5 The Corticospinal Tracts and Other Descending Motor Tracts in the Spinal Cord
Motor homunculus on primary motor cortex of left cerebral hemisphere
Axon of uppermotor neuron Lower-motor neuron

KEY

To skeletal muscles

Corticobulbar tract Motor nuclei of cranial nerves

Cerebral peduncle MESENCEPHALON Dorsal root ganglion

Dorsal root

Lateral corticospinal tract

To skeletal muscles Motor nuclei of cranial nerves

MEDULLA OBLONGATA Decussation of pyramids Pyramids Rubrospinal tract

Lateral corticospinal tract To skeletal muscles

Ventral root
Anterior corticospinal tract SPINAL CORD Vestibulospinal tract Anterior corticospinal tract Reticulospinal tract Tectospinal tract

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The Subconscious Motor Tracts
Consists of four tracts involved in monitoring the subconscious motor control
Vestibulospinal tracts Tectospinal tracts Reticulospinal tracts Rubrospinal tracts

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The Subconscious Motor Tracts
Vestibulospinal tracts
Send information from the inner ear to monitor position of the head Vestibular nuclei respond by altering muscle tone, neck muscle contraction, and limbs for posture and balance

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The Subconscious Motor Tracts
Tectospinal tracts
Send information to the head, neck, and upper limbs in response to bright and sudden movements and loud noises The tectum area consists of superior and inferior colliculi Superior colliculi: receives visual information Inferior colliculi: receives auditory information

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Sensory and Motor Tracts


The Subconscious Motor Tracts
Reticulospinal tracts
Send information to cause eye movements and activate respiratory muscles

Rubrospinal tracts
Send information to the flexor and extensor muscles

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Figure 15.6 Nuclei of Subconscious Motor Pathways

Motor cortex

Caudate nucleus

Basal nuclei

Putamen
Globus pallidus

Thalamus Superior colliculus Inferior colliculus Red nucleus Tectum Cerebellar nuclei

Reticular formation Pons Vestibular nucleus Medulla oblongata

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Levels of Somatic Motor Control


Summary of somatic motor control
Cerebral cortex initiates voluntary movement Information goes to the basal nuclei and cerebellum
These structures modify and coordinate the movements so they are performed in a smooth manner

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Figure 15.7b Somatic Motor Control

Motor association areas

Cerebral cortex
Decision in frontal lobes

Basal nuclei

Cerebellum

The planning stage: When a conscious decision is made to perform a specific movement, information is relayed from the frontal lobes to motor association areas. These areas in turn relay the information to the cerebellum and basal nuclei.
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Levels of Somatic Motor Control


Summary of somatic motor control
Information goes from the basal nuclei and cerebellum back to the cerebral cortex to constantly monitor position and muscle tone

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Figure 15.7c Somatic Motor Control Primary motor cortex

Cerebral cortex

Motor association areas

Basal nuclei

Cerebellum

Other nuclei of the medial and lateral pathways


Corticospinal pathway Lower motor neurons

Motor activity

Movement: As the movement begins, the motor association areas send instructions to the primary motor cortex. Feedback from the basal nuclei and cerebellum modifies those commands, and output along the conscious and subconscious pathways directs involuntary adjustments in position and muscle tone.
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Levels of Somatic Motor Control


Summary of somatic motor control
Thalamus
Controls reflexes associated with visual and auditory stimuli

Hypothalamus
Responds to hunger, thirst, and sexual activity

Pons
Regulates the rhythmic breathing patterns

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Figure 15.7 Somatic Motor Control


BASAL NUCLEI
Modify voluntary and reflexive motor patterns at the subconscious level

CEREBRAL CORTEX
Plans and initiates voluntary motor activity

HYPOTHALAMUS
Controls stereotyped motor patterns related to eating, drinking, and sexual activity; modifies respiratory reflexes

THALAMUS AND MESENCEPHALON


Control reflexes in response to visual and auditory stimuli

PONS AND SUPERIOR MEDULLA OBLONGATA


Control balance reflexes and more-complex respiratory reflexes

CEREBELLUM
Coordinates complex motor patterns

BRAIN STEM AND SPINAL CORD


Control simple cranial and spinal reflexes

INFERIOR MEDULLA OBLONGATA


Controls basic respiratory reflexes

Somatic motor control involves a series of levels, with simple spinal and cranial reflexes at the bottom and complex voluntary motor patterns at the top.
Primary motor cortex

Motor association areas Cerebral cortex Decision in frontal lobes

Motor association areas

Basal nuclei

Basal nuclei

Cerebellum Cerebellum Other nuclei of the medial and lateral pathways Corticospinal pathway Lower motor neurons

Motor activity

The planning stage: When a conscious decision is made to perform a specific movement, information is relayed from the frontal lobes to motor association areas. These areas in turn relay the information to the cerebellum and basal nuclei.

Movement: As the movement begins, the motor association areas send instructions to the primary motor cortex. Feedback from the basal nuclei and cerebellum modifies those commands, and output along the conscious and subconscious pathways directs involuntary adjustments in position and muscle tone.

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Levels of Somatic Motor Control


Summary of somatic motor control
Medulla oblongata
Alters the breathing patterns

Brain stem
Controls simple reflexes

Spinal cord
Controls simple reflexes

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